First Ariane V of 2013 Lifts off From South America

On Top of the Aerospace WorldCredit: Arianepace

On Top of the Aerospace World
Credit: Arianespace

Kicking off a full 2013 launch campaign,  an Ariane V ECA heavy lift booster carrying two satellites lifted off from the CSG space center in French Guiana today, and in the process established a record performance of  placing 10,317 kg into GTO.  The larger of the two satellites,  the 6,265 kg Amazonas 3, was built by Space Systems/Loral Satellite for Spanish operator Hispasat. The smaller payload, the 3,000 kg  Azerspace/Africasat-1a was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation for Azerbaijan, and is that country’s first satellite. The split name comes from the fact that it will also offer commercial service to Africa as well as to Azerbaijan.   This continues a growing trend of smaller countries securing their own individual spacecraft in geostationary orbit rather than simply purchasing services from larger commercial operators.

With Proton continuing to exhibit an alarming failure rate and Sea Launch  all but dead after suffering a devastating failure last week, Arianespace’s position as the undisputed leader in the commercial satellite launch industry is for the moment, stronger than it has ever been.   Today’s launch was the 68th successful flight for the Ariane V and, and the 54th consecutive successful flight.   The launch manifest for 2013 calls for a total of  6 Ariane V flights,  4 for the commercial S0yuz, and one for smaller, all solid fueled  Vega booster.

There is however, a new arrival on the scene, and for American readers, (except perhaps ULA) it can’t happen soon enough.

For anyone who thinks Elon Musk is too outspoken,  it might be worth tuning in to the next launch on and watching Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall heaping praise on his own company.  At this moment, perhaps the only person enjoying such an unrivalled run of being on top is University of Alabama head coach football coach Nick Saban, and at least he’s humble about it.

Nick SabanCredit : University of Alabama

Nick Saban
Credit : University of Alabama

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